The Walking Dead: Destinies Review
In 2014, The Walking Dead dominated the media. The television show embarked on its fourth season captivating audiences with its unpredictability; the comics delved into arguably Kirkman’s best story arc, All Out War, and Telltale explored Clementine’s first steps without Lee by her side. Flux Game Studio looks to capture the era with The Walking Dead: Destinies, a game that centers around the first four seasons of the television show. Placing you in the director’s chair, you are given the opportunity to make pivotal decisions to steer the direction of the plot. Although an appealing premise, are the indie developers biting off more than they can chew?
The Walking Dead: Destinies centers around the idea of ‘what if?’. Fans of the product have always theorized about certain situations and wondered how the narrative would unfold if things went differently. What if Shane killed Rick? What if you spared the Governor’s daughter? Well, this game allows you to live out these tales, giving you the choice to see how your decisions would affect the characters you know and love. While the idea is intriguing, the execution lets it down.
Cutscenes are basic with an array of stills and a slow-moving camera that sweeps across the scene. If the developers wanted to go down this route so that they did not need to create all the possibilities, a stylistic approach would have enhanced the quality. Referencing its comic book origins with panels and pages would give the segments more character, however, without this, they lack flair and detract from the immersion.
Wait, is that Rick?
Voice actors take over the role of iconic characters and for the most part, do a decent job. The same can’t be said for the likeness of the actors. The portrayal of each character resembles a discounted interpretation, similar to a version you might find on Wish, where elements are altered to avoid potential copyright infringement issues. If capturing the likeness is an issue, then why not abandon the approach and just base the characters on the comics or a new design? Unfortunately, the combination of unoriginal voice actors and lackluster character models makes the whole experience feel cheap.
Missions are extremely linear with a clear path to follow. These tend to have a similar structure that requires you to venture from one point to another or fight a horde of zombies for a specific amount of time. The lack of mission variety is disappointing and results in a game that feels dated. You can take out enemies via stealth or go for a more visceral approach using whatever you have at your disposal. It’s easy to get overwhelmed so you’ll begin to lure out enemies one by one to take them out. You will need to manage your stamina as overexertion results in slow attacks which can give walkers the advantage. Multiple kills can build your adrenaline which allows you to brutally batter a zombie and gain some much-needed health. When against a small number, it works but as soon as the horde grows so does the frustration.
Time to Decide
A key feature of the game is altering the narrative and while you are able to do this, it’s not the broad branching experience you may have expected. At key moments, you can choose an option that alters the story, however, this simply results in a character swap. Rather than playing the following sequences as Rick, you play as Shane. You do get the odd opportunity to play as other characters but they all play exactly the same. It’s strange as each personality has a set of skills that you can unlock through points acquired in the game. In theory, this should make them distinct but it turns out that these skills work for everyone which makes tying them to a character absolutely pointless.
The Walking Dead: Destinies would have been a fitting release a decade ago during the peak of the series’ popularity, ironically, the game plays as if it belongs to that era too. You’ll quickly tire of the repetitive mission structure and grow frustrated with the combat system. Although the game claims to allow you to choose the path that Rick and Co. walk, your decisions barely make a difference. Even die-hard fans of the formidable franchise will want to steer clear of this undead adventure due to its dated design and poor execution.
***A PlayStation 5 key was provided by the publisher***
- Focuses on the Pinnacle of the Series
- Great Concept
- Fun at Times
- Dated Gameplay
- Pointless Choices
- Ugly Visuals